SPERI is delighted to report that the Political Studies Association’s British and Comparative Political Economy Specialist Group will be formally launched in September. The group is convened by SPERI’s deputy director Craig Berry, and honorary fellow Jeremy Green.
The group will hold its inaugural workshop at the University of Cambridge on Wednesday 13th September. More information about the workshop, which is co-convened by Craig, Jeremy and SPERI research fellow Scott Lavery, can be found here: https://www.psa.ac.uk/psa-communities/specialist-groups/british-and-comparative-political-economy/events.
On the evening of the 13th (6pm), the group will host a large, interactive public event in Cambridge’s Webb Library, titled Politics in Uncertain Times: What Will the World Look Like in 2050, and How Do You Know? The event will feature a fantastic panel, including political economist Helen Thompson, pollster and academic Joel Faulkner Rogers, historian Glen O’Hara and political betting expert Paul Krishnamurty.
The panel will discuss future trajectories of political and economic change, as we try to make sense of where this period of ‘great uncertainty’ is heading. Questions the event will consider include:
- Considering the surprise by which many events have taken society, should we attempt to be predictive and anticipatory when conducting political and economic analysis? Or, is the world so inherently unpredictable that we should avoid taking part in such activity?
- How much does the weight of history hang over future trajectories of political and economic change? Has the study of the future become too detached from the study of history?
- What impact are political and economic changes going to have on future generations? How will the young of today shape these changes?
For more information and to register for the public event, visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/politics-in-uncertain-times-what-will-the-world-look-like-in-2050-tickets-35532302072.
A new report published today by SPERI finds that the salience of the concept of ‘savings’ in British political discourse appears to have declined. In this new SPERI British Political Econony Brief, Craig Berry explores how savers and the saving process have been discussed in the election manifestos of the Conservative Party and the Labour Party since 2005, up to the most recent election in June 2017. Noting recent shifts, the Brief considers whether the era of ‘asset-based welfare’ in British statecraft is coming to an end.
Dr Craig Berry, SPERI deputy director and author of the report, said the positive discourse on saving, which was most strongly promoted by Labour in 2010 and the Conservative Party in 2015, has now largely disappeared. He added:
It is telling that both parties were in government rather than opposition at the time, insofar as this suggests that ‘asset-based welfare’ is an endemic feature of British economic statecraft, irrespective of which party is in government, and irrespective of what parties say while in opposition. But the 2017 general election appears to have signalled a significant shift.
Whereas Ed Miliband’s 2015 agenda can now be seen as an important ‘gateway’ between New Labour and Corbynism, the shift in Conservative discourse has been more abrupt. However, we should be careful before declaring the onset of a new era in economic statecraft around saving; neither party won a majority at the 2017 election. It is possible that both parties – particularly the Conservatives – will revive a positive discourse around saving in order to reassemble a compelling electoral offer. Asset-based welfare is down, but not necessarily out.
The full publication can be downloaded here. Through its series of British Political Economy Briefs, SPERI hopes to draw upon the expertise of its academic researchers to influence the debate in the UK on sustainable economic recovery.
Today is Tony Payne’s final day as Co-Director of SPERI. He is retiring from this position, but will retain an ongoing role in SPERI in the future as a Professorial Fellow. Tony was the founding Co-Director of SPERI with Colin Hay and has led SPERI with Colin since we were established in 2012.
In his new Professorial Fellow role Tony will be continuing to research and write for SPERI, especially on the changing nature of development. He will continue to lead our research programme on ‘Development and the Governance of a Globalising Political Economy’, working jointly with Matt Bishop.
Earlier this month we marked SPERI’s fifth anniversary. We have achieved a lot over the last five years and none of it would have been possible without Tony’s leadership, drive and support. As we look ahead to our next five years, we already have an extensive and exciting research agenda underway and we are all looking forward to continuing to work with Tony.
Thanks for everything Tony!
The Eighth Pivot book in the ‘Building a Sustainable Political Economy‘ series has been published.
Researched and written by Christopher Kirkland, this book explores two recent crises in British political economy: the crisis of 1976–9, for which the trade unions were impugned, and the 2007 economic crisis, for which bankers were (at least initially) blamed. The author argues that the “crisis resolution” of the former – principally the Thatcherite reforms of the 1980s – led to the emergence of the banking crisis. Further, Kirkland demonstrates how narratives of blame have emerged and were used in both instances to promote specific agendas. Narrations of blame and crises were used to curb the trade union powers in the 1980s, whilst the 2007 crisis was quickly reframed as one of excessive government spending, which in turn has led to policies of austerity.
The book can be purchased via Palgrave.
SPERI was delighted to celebrate its fifth anniversary yesterday (Wednesday 12 July 2017) with an event and reception at the Bank of England.
The Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) was launched at the University of Sheffield in 2012 to research the political and economic issues posed by the global financial crisis. Since then, we have published a huge number of reports, papers and briefings, providing a valuable insight into key events in the economic and political sphere.
Andrew Haldane, University of Sheffield alumnus and Chief Economist at the Bank of England, hosted last night’s celebration event and delivered a keynote speech, while President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, Professor Sir Keith Burnett, chaired.
Other speakers included Dawn Foster, a regular political contributor to the Guardian, the London Review of Books and the Independent; Gavin Kelly, Chief Executive of The Resolution Trust; and Vivien Schmidt, Professor of International Relations and Political Science at Boston University and Chair of SPERI’s International Advisory Board.
A panel discussion followed the talks, in which the audience was invited to participate. Topics of discussion included sustainable economic growth, climate change, growing inequality and global shifts in power.
Professor Tony Payne, Co-Director of SPERI, talked about SPERI’s work over the past five years. After the event, he said:
“SPERI was set up by the Vice-Chancellor five years ago to create a new space to research the many consequences of the global financial crisis and to address some of the huge economic and political challenges that resulted. We have worked hard and achieved a lot, producing many papers, reports, briefs and books and posting a regular blog called ‘SPERI Comment’. We are now working to identify the big political economy questions that will shape our work over the next five years. The insights offered by the speakers and the members of the audience at the panel discussion will help enormously in this respect.”
In May 2017 Martin left the University of Sheffield to become Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor of Human Geography, and Co-Director of the Centre for City-Region Dynamics at Staffordshire University. We are very pleased that Martin will remain officially attached to SPERI and we look forward to continuing to work with him.
At the University of Sheffield Martin was Director of the White Rose Social Science Doctoral Training Centre (WRDTC) and Professor of Urban and Regional Political Economy. Prior to coming to Sheffield, Martin spent 15 years at the University of Aberystwyth where he was Pro Vice-Chancellor and Co-Director of the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD). Martin is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, originator and co-editor of the journal Territory, Politics, Governance, and the author or editor of 10 books and over 150 publications. Martin’s current research, funded by the ESRC, is interested in the geographies of state intervention and civil society through localism and city-region building in Sheffield, Manchester, Swansea, Cardiff, and Stoke-on-Trent.
A new book by SPERI Research Fellow Hannah Lambie-Mumford is published today by Policy Press. Hungry Britain: the rise of food charity draws on empirical research with the UK’s two largest charitable food organisations and explores the prolific rise of food charity over the last 15 years and its implications for overcoming food insecurity.
As the welfare state withdraws, leaving food banks to protect the most vulnerable, Hannah Lambie-Mumford questions the sustainability of this system and asks where responsibility lies – in practice and in theory – for ensuring everyone can realise their human right to food.
The book argues that effective, policy-driven solutions require a clear rights-based framework, which enables a range of actors including the state, charities and the food industry to work together towards, and be held accountable for, the progressive realisation of the right to food for all in the UK.
The book is available to purchase from Policy Press.
We are very pleased to report that SPERI has been granted observer membership of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS).
SPERI is currently working with FEPS on two research projects:
- Diverging Capitalisms? Britain, the City of London and Europe (with Policy Network);
- The Post-crisis Political Economy of Young People across Europe.
The observer status confirms the importance of our partnership and we hope that it will develop into an ongoing programme of research collaboration between our two institutes.
We are delighted to announce that Dr Scott Lavery has recently been awarded a prestigious Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship award which he will undertake at SPERI.
The award, which runs from January 2018 to December 2020, will allow Scott to pursue an independent research project entitled Capitalising on the European Crisis: New Geographies of Economic Power in the EU.
The project will uncover the ways in which sub-national actors within EU member states’ financial and industrial sectors differentially benefit from the contemporary dysfunctions of European capitalism.
The project will form a core element of SPERI’s ‘European Capitalism and the Crises of the EU’ research programme which Scott co-leads with Dr Owen Parker.
For information on the project, you can contact Scott on: email@example.com
The event will take place at 18.00 on Tuesday 26 September 2017 in Firth Hall, University of Sheffield.
Book your place via eventbrite here.
Stephanie was the former BBC Economics Editor from 2008 to 2013, where her analysis and on-air commentary were widely respected and broadcast around the world. In this role she also hosted her own economics discussion show, ‘Stephanomics’, named after her influential blog.
Prior to joining the BBC in 2002, she worked as a reporter at the New York Times and a speechwriter and senior advisor to US Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers in the second Clinton Administration, when she was closely involved in the management of the 1997-8 emerging market financial crises. She has also been a Financial Times leader-writer and columnist, and an economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the London Business School. She was a scholar at Balliol College, University of Oxford, where she obtained a first class degree, and attended Harvard University as a Kennedy Scholar at the Kennedy School of Government.
In 2013 she became Chief Market Strategist for the UK and Europe for J.P. Morgan Asset Management where she delivered insight into the economy and financial markets to thousands of professional investors across the UK, Europe and globally.
She was also the chair of the independent RSA Inclusive Growth Commission launched in 2016 which investigated how local economies can drive growth, productivity and prosperity through greater economic inclusivity.
From October 2017 Stephanie will return to journalism as she will leave J.P. Morgan to lead a new economics desk at Bloomberg in New York.
Her talk will be followed by a Q&A session.
Sean McDaniel will join SPERI from 1 July as part of our support for the Commission on Economic Justice established by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).
The Commission was set up to rethink economic policy for post-Brexit Britain. This agenda has long been at the heart of SPERI’s mission, and Sean’s existing research on social democratic politics across Europe – and, increasingly, the implications of Brexit for political economy – mean that he is well-placed to make an important to contribution to the Commission’s work.
Sean’s research will explore several aspects of the contemporary UK political economy around which SPERI’s work for the Commission will focus:
(a) Ownership of firms and organizational types
(b) Combining paid and unpaid work, and closing gender, class and ethnic minority gaps
(c) The subnational settlement: institutions, policies and fiscal powers
(d) Developing the local community-based economy
(e) Fiscal, monetary, infrastructure and trade policy frameworks
(f) Measuring and understanding the economy
(g) Taxation: share of GDP and progressivity of the tax system
This is an exciting and very valuable agenda to which SPERI is very pleased to contribute.
SPERI researchers attended the OECD Forum in Paris on Tuesday 5th June to debate and discuss our work on inclusive growth.
The OECD Forum is a major international conference held in Paris each year at the OECD’s headquarters. Representatives from government, business, civil society and academia from across the OECD’s 35 member countries and around the world come together to debate the most pressing global social, political and economic issues.
The session was chaired by Thomas Bernt Henriksen, Swedish economics editor and commentator, and alongside Colin the panel included:
- Gabriela Ramos, Chief of Staff, G20 Sherpa & Special Counsellor to the Secretary-General
- Tim Costello, Chief Advocate, World Vision Australia
- Hans Dahlgren, State Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister Sweden
- Lizette Risgaard, President, Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC)
- Alfredo Thorne Vetter, Minister of Economy and Finance, Peru
- Rodrigo Valdés, Minister of Finance, Ministry of Finance, Chile
Inclusive growth is high on the agenda of the OECD and was a major theme at the Forum. Each panellist gave their perspective on inclusive growth stressing the importance of defining precisely what we mean by inclusive growth. The discussion covered issues such as the importance for the public and private sector to work together, whether the GINI coefficient is a useful metric to measure inclusive growth and how to redistribute wealth more equitably.
Read Colin Hay’s recent SPERI blog on why inclusive growth is the challenge of our time.
Craig Berry, SPERI’s Deputy Director, and Tom Hunt, SPERI’s Policy Research Officer, also attended the Forum. At the Forum Colin, Craig and Tom met with the teams in charge of the OECD’s work on inclusive growth and the New Approaches to Economic Challenges (NAEC) initiative. They discussed future research collaboration between SPERI and OECD on inclusive growth and further collaboration between the OECD, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Inclusive Growth and SPERI. SPERI is the research partner of the APPG on Inclusive Growth. Read the APPG-SPERI publication ‘The state of the debate’ here.
SPERI is delighted to report two new publications that explore in different formats the changing political economy of oil and the place that oil now occupies in the economic and political predicaments that confront the West. Both are authored by Helen Thompson, Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge and an Honorary Research Fellow of SPERI.
The first publication consists of a new book published by Helen in SPERI’s Palgrave Pivot series entitled ‘Building a Sustainable Political Economy; SPERI Research and Policy‘. The book is called Oil and the Western Economic Crisis and is now available in e-form at http://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9783319525082.
The second publication consists of a SPERI Global Political Economy Brief entitled ‘Oil: The Missing Story of the West’s Economic and Geopolitical Crises‘ in which Helen summarises the core features of her new research in a format that is quick and easy to digest.
Global Political Economy Brief No. 9 is available to download here.
SPERI held the fourth of a workshop series on Brexit (funded by the White Rose Consortium) at the European Parliament in Brussels. The event, entitled ‘Regions, Cities and the EU after Brexit: Towards a ‘multi speed’ Europe?’, included leading academics and practitioners from the UK and the EU with notable contributions by Professor Jan Zielonka from the University of Oxford, author of Is the EU doomed?, and Linda McAvan MEP. The event was focused around the European Commission’s recent White Paper ‘The Future of Europe’ which examined five possible futures for the European Union.
Scott Lavery, SPERI Research Fellow, opened the worshop by introducing some of the findings of the research undertaken by SPERI. Professor Jan Zielonka followed Scott giving his perspective on the pitfalls associated with EU integration, arguing that the European institutions have yet to change structure since their inception. He argued that the current model of integration has been broken by rising Euroscepticism and that the only way for the EU to rejuvenate itself is to refocus integration around cities and regions. Professor Zielonka emphasised networks between regions and cities as the new mode of integration, arguing that Europe would be more connected, not less, as a result.
Dr Owen Parker, Associate Fellow of SPERI and a former Commission employee in DG Enlargement, then led the debate, asking as to the feasibility of Jan Zielonka’s ideas of new networks actually being established.
Linda McAvan MEP responded, claiming that nation states still have a lot of power and still hold important responsibilities such as defence. She also questioned who would govern the networks that Professor Zielonka had been referring to. She argues that politics was still needed to solve issues at the European level.
Dr Ania Skrzypek from the Foundation for European Progressive Studies, a centre-left think tank based in Brussels, brought a new angle into the debate, emphasising that it has been the failure of the EU to properly relate to the voters that has given rise to Euroscepticism. She claimed that it is the rise in less secure jobs and the failure of social democratic parties to properly address this issue that has mostly contributed to the need for reform in Europe.
SPERI’s latest Paper, The Political Economy of Brexit and the UK’s National Business Model, is available to download here.
Today SPERI publishes a new research paper entitled ‘The Political Economy of Brexit and the UK’s National Business Model’. The paper draws together contributions from a series of workshops which ran throughout 2016 funded by the White Rose Consortium.
The paper includes contributions from the three organisers of the workshop series, Scott Lavery (SPERI, Sheffield), Lucia Quaglia (York) and Charlie Dannreuther (Leeds) as well as contributions from Gabriel Siles-Brugge (Warwick), Nicole Lindstrom (York), Ben Rosamond (Copenhagen), Scott James (KCL) and Jonathan Perraton (Sheffield).
The paper offers an overview of the political economy of Brexit across a number of policy areas, including finance, trade, investment, the labour market and regional development.
Written in the period between the June 2016 vote and the March 2017 Article 50 ‘trigger’, the paper provides a summary of some of the key challenges and tensions as the UK embarks upon the process of exiting the EU.
Download SPERI Paper No. 41: The Political Economy of Brexit and the UK’s National Business Model.
A new report published today by SPERI finds that the impact of the pension ‘triple lock’ is modest and should be maintained. In this new Brief, Craig Berry explores the merit of the criticism the triple lock attracts by considering the policy’s long-term impact on state pension outcomes; in short, the triple lock is assessed as a pensions policy, not simply a pensioner policy. The analysis places the triple lock within the context of the wider operation of the UK state pension system for different age groups, after comparing the UK state pension system with those of other developed countries. The analysis finds that concerns about the state pension triple lock being too expensive, or unfair on younger generations, are misplaced. The Brief argues that the triple lock helps to nudge the value of the state pension towards the OECD average – albeit arguably far too slowly – and considers, finally, other policy options that might mean that the same goal can be achieved in a more fiscally sustainable manner.
Dr Craig Berry, SPERI deputy director and author of the report, said:
“Young people are the main beneficiaries of the triple lock. There are several options the government could pursue to enhance the value of the state pensions today’s young people will become entitled to when they retire – but few have the elegant simplicity of the triple lock.
“The underlying problem with the triple lock is that the 2.5 per cent lock only applied when the economy is experiencing a downturn. The government could therefore look instead to over-index the state pension when the economy is in good health. This would enable the same policy goals to be achieved without jeopardising the long-term interests of today’s young people.”
The full report can be downloaded here. Through its series of British Political Economy Briefs, SPERI hopes to draw upon the expertise of its academic researchers to influence the debate in the UK on sustainable economic recovery.
On Friday 12th of May SPERI, together with the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, hosted a panel discussion ‘Brexit and the Environment – Opportunity or a threat?’. The event was part of the Festival of Debate and was well-attended by the public.
The panel consisted of Dr Apolline Roger (Lecturer in Environmental Law at the University of Sheffield), Kate Jennings (Head of Site Conservation Policy at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), James Copeland (Environment and Land Use Adviser at the National Farmers Union, North-East region), and Paul Blomfield (Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Sheffield Central). The event was chaired by Daniel Bailey of SPERI.
The panel opened with each of the panellists giving a short talk on their views on Brexit and the environment, bringing up points on where they saw the major threats and opportunities that Brexit may bring about for the British natural environment. The general consensus across the participants was that whilst there are many potential threats, it is hard to find opportunities though this is not impossible. The uncertainty brought about by Brexit featured widely, irrespective of the point of view the panellists represented.
Once the panel had voiced their views, the floor was opened to questions from the audience which sparked a lively discussion. The discussion covered a wide range of issues including land use in farming, the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy, the right scale of governance at which decisions about the environment should be made and whether it will be possible for the UK to have more ambitious and stricter environmental regulations post-Brexit, among many others. The event successfully increased awareness of the difficult and complex issues around Brexit and the environment that will unfold over the coming years.
Professor Colin Hay, Co-Director of SPERI, was interviewed by David Coffey of Radio France Internationale about the surprise UK general election.
Listen to the interview in full here or watch below. The topics that Colin discussed included the current levels of public support for the Conservatives and the Labour Party, the likelihood of a second independence referendum in Scotland and the potential that Brexit could lead to the unification of Ireland.
With its tenth anniversary approaching, it is clear that the 2008 global financial crisis has had significant ramifications throughout Europe that are still being felt today. Many European economies remain stagnant, with sluggish wage growth and increasing labour market precariousness. Although all age cohorts have been affected by the specific impacts of the crisis, young people across Europe in particular are among the groups most affected, in part because they will live with the aftermath for longest, and in part because of the crisis’ specific impact on their socio-economic circumstances.
We are pleased to announce a new SPERI research project that will investigate the post-crisis political economy of young people across Europe today, and the role played by the crisis in explaining their situation and the emergent politics of intergenerational fairness. It will look at questions such as:
- How young people have responded to crisis across Europe, and the extent to which such responses have been framed as being for as well as by young people.
- How political elites have responded to young people’s socio-economic circumstances, and the ways in which intergenerational issues have been framed by elites.
We have secured new funding for the project from the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) as part of our ongoing research partnership.
We are also very pleased to announce that Kate Alexander Shaw will be joining SPERI as a postdoctoral research fellow to lead the new project which will run throughout 2017.
Kate is currently at the LSE where she is completing her doctoral research. She has previously worked as a policy analyst at HM Treasury and the Greater London Authority. Her most recent publication ‘Organized Combat or Structural Advantage? The Politics of Inequality and the Winner-Take-All Economy in the United Kingdom’ (co-authored with Jonathan Hopkin) was published in Politics & Society in 2016. You can find out more about Kate on her SPERI profile page.
The new project will form a central part of SPERI’s Young People and Generational Change research programme which is led by Craig Berry and Colin Hay, as well as contributing to our European Capitalism research programme. It will also complement and link in with FEPS’ ‘millennial dialogue’ research programme.